"God gave you
for the ups and downs.
God gave you
for the days of doubt.
For when I think
I've lost my way,
there are no words
here left to say,
God gave me you..."
It's been wonderful living on the periphery -- witnessing, from a gentle distance a blessed wedding that will take place this weekend. Seeing dear friends gather to celebrate a couple's love for one another and their hope for the future -- well, I can't imagine a more beautiful view.
Thinking about marriage, and what it takes to open the door of our hearts and our lives so completely to another human being, takes my breath away. There is something so sacred about this holy space that Love is continually carving out in us. And today, it's Blake Shelton's "God Gave Me You." that speaks to what I believe about marriage -- with all my being.
It's no secret that I've been divorced and remarried. And I've discovered that generally, people think that I must consider my earlier marriage a "mistake."
But that's not true. Not at all true. I believe that every marriage -- every relationship -- is blessed, sacred, and holy. I was deeply blessed by my earlier marriage. However I've come to learn that for me -- and I can only speak for myself -- relationships evolve. They don't end. My children's dad and I -- with our current spouses -- are devoted parenting partners. I continue to be blessed by what we are learning together. It's just that now we have expanded that circle to include more love, more care, more support.
I am also learning that we never really end any relationship. We continue to think about the people who have been in our lives. And that act of "thinking about" them is always in done in the present tense. We don't actually think in the past. So, how we are thinking of them - in any given "present" moment -- is our only truth about the relationship. And how we treat them -- in our thoughts, even as memory -- is all that matters.
This is what defines us -- our capacity to love without the permission of roles or reasons. We just continue to love -- honestly, appropriately, trustingly. It doesn't end, it just changes, or evolves.
I won't lie. To believe that my former spouse and I had once made a mistake -- and that we had now corrected it by "moving on," would romantically tie all my loose ends up in a neat little bow. I could say, "whew, I got it wrong, and then I got it right. Thank you God. Now I can be happy."
But that would put happiness on a personal, rather than a spiritual, basis. And it would also mean that at some point we had each been separated from God's guidance, care, direction, and wisdom. It would mean that at some juncture our omnipotent God ceased to have all power in our lives. Or He did have all-power, but He really didn't love us all that much -- otherwise, wouldn't He/She have intervened on our behalf and saved us from our mistakes?
Nope, I can't afford the luxury of that thinking. It would send a fissure through every holy place in my heart. It would shake my trust in an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God who is impartial and universal Love.
The alternative is so much better.:
"God gave me you..."
And not just the "you" I married, but all the yous in my life. Family members, neighbors, friends, fellow parents at school, the driver next to me on the road, those who hold a different viewpoint -- everyone.
Every person in my life - for whatever reason - is God-appointed, God-annointed, and God-sent as a blessing. Or as Blake sings, we are all part of "a divine conspiracy" designed for our spiritual awakening.
As I learn to let love unfold itself in my heart - within the context of each relationship - I am learning something new about my capacity to reflect the divine Source of that love. I discover that "Love is reflected in love" -- unconditional love, impartial love -- in me, through me, as me. No exceptions.
But, I haven't always seen it this way. In fact, there was a time when I thought I had the privilege of choosing whether to love, how to love, and when to love the people in my life. I doled love out like a commodity -- and hoped it would return in kind. When it didn't, I judged the relationship as either good, or "not so good," and adjusted my affection, and expectations, accordingly.
But this never worked. I was always on the edge, waiting for something to improve -- or to end. If someone hurt me, I had the right to expect an apology. If I hurt someone else, I deserved to feel self-loathing, regret, sorrow, and hope for their forgiveness.
It was all in our hands. We determined the success or failure of our relationships. And God help us, if we were doomed from the outset by a poor initial choice.
Then one day I actually realized that I was dishonoring God with this thinking. It was unholy. It left God out of His own creation.
So, you may ask, if this is the case how could I possibly allow myself to even entertain the concept of "divorce." To be honest, I never did. I was completely intractable when it came to my commitment of "making it work."
But then one day, there was an inbreaking of the heart -- and from that space of surrender, grace began to flow. Where once, I had been rigid about what a "spiritual outcome" had to look like, there was a new gentleness and humility.
Something shifted, and I felt led towards a kinder version of myself. I was willing to let God unfold a more authentic relationship with my former spouse. An honest relationship that was/is filled with fresh hope and a more radical trust in God's plan for each of us -- individually and collectively. A relationship based on God's love for him, for our children, and yes, for me.
The other day, as I was thinking about our friends' marriage, and the beauty of weddings -- first weddings, second weddings -- and in some cases third or fourth marriages. And I was reminded of Mary Baker Eddy's wedding blessing from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:
"May Christ, Truth,
be present at every bridal altar
to turn the water into wine
and to give to human life
an inspiration by which
man's spiritual and
eternal existence may be discerned."
Every bridal altar. What a blessed promise!
Eddy, herself, was a new bride -- three times. And I pray with all my heart that she felt beautiful, pure, hopeful, filled with promise -- each time. I pray that we all do.
Whether the "new" relationship in your life is the birth of a child, the resurrection of a once-stale friendship, a business partnership that excites you, or a first, second, or third walk down the aisle -- may it feel like a miracle. For in each case, it really is. It is a divine gift. A gift of grace.
I know -- because God gave me you. Each of you.
"There are no greater miracles known to earth
and an unbroken friendship."
with great hope, and always with Love,